The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, says Britain must urgently make an offer on its divorce bill if negotiations are to make any significant progress.
Following what the UK Brexit secretary, David Davis, admitted were “robust” exchanges on the issue of money over four days of negotiations, Barnier told reporters that he needed to see what the UK was willing to pay before leaving, to settle its obligations to the EU budget.
Speaking on the closing day of the first substantive week of Brexit talks, Barnier said: “As I said very clearly to David, a clarification of the UK’s position is indispensable for us to negotiate and for us to make sufficient progress on this financial dossier, which is inseparable for the other withdrawal dossiers.”
In a joint press conference with Davis in Brussels on Thursday, he added: “What we want, and we are working on this, is an orderly withdrawal for the United Kingdom, and an orderly withdrawal means accounts must be settled.”
Barnier also told reporters that he was pleased by the detailed offer provided on the rights of EU citizens, post-Brexit but that there remained serious issues to resolve. Foremost among those was the EU’s “insistence” that the rights of the 3.3 million EU nationals in the UK will be overseen by the European court of justice – a red line for Theresa May.
Barnier said: “In the withdrawal agreement itself citizens must be able to find the legal certainty that they need in their day-to-day lives.
“Quite frankly as far as we are concerned we can see no other way in which we can guarantee the permanent continuation of such European rights as exercised. Clearly any reference to European rights implies their oversight by the courts of justice of the European union.”
Davis said that the British government also wished to provide certainty to citizens but that they diverged on how to do so. The Brexit talks are the second round since negotiations formally began in June, a year after Britain’s historic referendum vote to leave the 28-member European Union.
The EU wants an outline deal agreed by October 2018, so that the European and British parliaments can approve it in time for Brexit day, which is scheduled for the end of March 2019.
More details to follow…